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In terms of providing plenty of high class harness racing, March is certainly a month that packs a decent punch. Here we look at the plethora of feature racing that’s to take place during the month. All-class cards don’t get much better than what will be served up on the 5th of the month at Alexandra Park. Despite Covid restrictions the meeting is due to go ahead as planned with a number of features being decided. Both the Woodlands Stud Northern Derby (won by Amazing Dream last year) and Pascoes the Jewellers Northern Oaks will take place. These Group 1 races are joined by the Breckon Bloodstock Young Guns Cardigan Bay Stakes to make up the treble of Group 1 races on the night. The Young Guns Final almost always showcases a future star of the track. Last year Krug proved too slick while recent winners of the race include horses like Cyclone Prince, Chase The Dream and the Barry Purdon driven Mach Shard who showed a clean pair of hooves to down Spankem, Alta Maestro and Ashley Locaz along with other notables in the final of 2017.   The support card includes Group 2 features in the Auckland Co-op Taxis City Auckland FFA and the Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock Delightful Lady Classic. The night will also showcase the Magness Benrow Northern Mares Classic at Listed level and the Group 3 Majestic Horsefloats Greenlane Cup,  Woodstone being the winner of that race last year. The Downbytheseaside Leonard Memorial Stakes backs up quickly on the back of all of that Alexandra Park quality by running on the 7th of March at the Cheviot meeting at Addington. Generally a competitive affair last year Town Echo captured the trophy from the Tony Stratford trained Sweet Lizzie. Booraa, an animal enjoying a hot run of form at the moment, finished 6th out of the seven horse field.    The great racing continues on the 13th of the month as Northern Southland plays host to a trio of Group 3 races. The big money races here being the Caduceus Club / Nevele R Fillies Classic, the Yaldhurst Hotel Northern Southland Cup (a race that the Robert Dunn trained Henry Hubert has owned over the last two years) and the Bmac Sheetmetal Southern Lights Trot. All of these features are to carry a stake of $30’000 From there it’s a return to Addington on the 26th with a card that’ll be punctuated by both Group 2 and Group 3 races. The Vero Flying Stakes (last won by the brilliant Copy That) and Storer Motors NZ Trotting Oaks will take place at Group 2 level aside the Lamb & Hayward Trotting Champs and the Teltrac Communications Free-For-All at Group 3 level. All together it looks a little like March madness!   Ben McMillan

Addington Raceway are taking the matter very seriously. Our main priority is the safety and health of our staff, the harness racing industry, our clients and our business partners.   Friday's race meeting will be behind closed doors. Only trainers, drivers, stablehands and Owners of horses engaged in Friday’s races will be allowed on course. Unfortunately, this does not extend to Members, business partners or the general public. Those who are permitted entry on course will need to register, sign in and get a wristband on arrival to Addington Raceway. Entry on course is via Twiggers Street roundabout only and the Wrights Road entrance will be closed. It will be a cashless event with no tote staff present. Self service terminals will be available for betting or you can download the TAB App. Owners/Licence Holders  Owners/Licence Holders with horses engaged at Friday's 5 March race meeting only will be permitted entry on course. Facilities will be located in Spectators with access to the stables. All will need to register and information regarding the registration process will be sent through separately. The Breckon's Winners Bar and Presentation Area will not be open and winning photos will be sent out to the winning connections on Monday 8 March.    Spectators  Spectators is open Monday - Friday from 10am offering great deals and practicing safe social distancing rules. On Friday Spectators will close to the general public from 3pm to prepare for the race meeting under Alert Level 2 guidelines. Those Owners who have registered will be allowed to access the facilities in Spectators.   We understand the news of moving back up the Alert Levels is a very challenging time for our staff, the racing industry, our clients and our business partners. We apologise for any inconvenience and will continue to keep you informed as information becomes available during this complex situation.   Should you require more information regarding the COVID-19 virus and prevention measures please visit the Ministry of Health website. You can also check our Facebook pages for updates specific to Addington Raceway.   Addington Raceway

Tim Williams starts a massive weekend in the sulky at Addington on Thursday night. Key drives behind Bettor Twist in the Peter Breckon Memorial Caduceus Club Stakes on Friday night and Wanna Play With Me in the Hambletonian Classic on Saturday await the reinsman following his seven steers at Addington. Williams drives a full sister to one of his all-time favourite horses, Dream About Me, in race on Thursday night. After impressing in her recent trials, Dream On Me looks hard to beat from barrier 1. “She is still on the way up, she is probably not the finished product,” Williams said. “But she has shown signs that she has some sort of the family ability.” “I’m sure she will be improved off her last trial.” “The small field and the good draw, she has a few positives there.” Reverting back to mobile race should help Pace N Pride bounce back to his best for Williams after his shock gallop in his last visit to Addington. From barrier 1 in race 6, Williams is expecting the three-year-old get every opportunity to bounce back to form. “It was a bit uncharacteristic last week, he had gone far enough before he jumped out of it.” “Obviously back to the mobile and the small field will definitely help him, there should be no excuses.” I Dream Of Jeannie clashes with the smart Midnight Dash in race 7 with Williams in the sulky. Though Midnight Dash should prove very hard to beat, the Sam Smolenski trained mare looks a genuine eachway chance. “Obviously Midnight Dash will be hard to beat, he is the class horse of the field.” “But she steps and puts herself in the race usually and she is capable of running in three in that field.” Williams hasn’t driven the talented Hurricane Hill ahead of his start in race 3. The trotter is still learning his trade, but clearly has the ability to beat the field he meets. “I spoke to Robbie Close and he seems to think he is a good pickup drive, so we will see if he is a good judge.” Williams also drives Smooth Debate in race 1, Saint Waitaki in race 4 and Cheapcheap in race 5 at Addington. The reinsman will be out to land another feature race win with Bettor Twist at Alexandra Park on Friday night. After copping yet another wide draw, the Hayden Cullen trained filly is again set to have to do it the hard way from barrier 7. “The draws haven’t been really kind to her up there, but it is what it is,” Williams said. “But she trialled super before she went back up there.” “Hopefully that will go hard early and that will probably help us.” Wanna Play With Me starts from barrier 6 in the Hambletonian Classic, which Williams is much more comfortable with. “I wasn’t disappointed with her draw, the less we have used her early in her last four or five starts and she has raced better for it.” “On paper the ones with the good draws over the mile might have their hand forced to used their draws.” “Hopefully she can settle somewhere midfield in the running line and if they go hard I’m sure she will appreciate a good tempo.” Italian Lad in race 7 at Ashburton looks another key drive for Williams this weekend.   By Jonny Turner

By Jonny Turner    Salvo produced the middle leg of a treble of outstanding performances with her flying late finish to win at Addington on Friday night. The nine-race card started in the with a simply outstanding effort from Shut Up N Dance, who bolted in in race 1 by a massive ten and a half lengths for trainer Regan Todd and driver Matthew Williamson. Next up, Salvo produced a sizzling last 100m to clinch her maiden victory right on the line for trainer Jack Harrington and driver Tim Williams. Williams made it a double with Love You three-year-old trotting fillies when Wanna Play Me served up a record-breaking first-over crush to take out the listed Sires Stakes 3YO Fillies Classique. Wanna Play Me stopped the clock in sizzling 2.24.7 to equal the fillies and mares national and track record for 1980m alongside both Dark Horse and Missalyssa. The three-year-old also smashed the mobile mark for three-year-old fillies she set in her win in the rescheduled Sires Stake 2YO Trotters Championship in October by 1.6sec. Salvo showed potential in three starts last time in and contested the Harness Million Two-Year-Old Trotting Final. It was in that feature event that the three-year-old last saw the mobile gate. And according to Jack Harrington it could be a while before she sees it again. “We found, especially in the rescheduled Harness Million final that the gate wound her up quite a fair bit.” “We are trying to steer away from the mobiles to let her learn her ringcraft a little bit.” “We are thinking her first mobile this time may very well be the Trotting Oaks, so long as everything goes to plan.” With the New Zealand Trotting Oaks a potential target for Salvo, Harrington clearly must have a decent wrap on the filly. The way she let down in the last 100m of Friday night’s race to catch Jakarta, who looked to have race 2 won, suggested she has a slice of class about her. “At this stage, it is probably too early to take on some of the better three-year-olds – but later on in another five or six races – to let her really get screwed down she could, ” Harrington said. “Hopefully she will get better and better and she can be thereabouts against those good one.” Salvo’s win comes almost two years to the day after Harrington purchased the filly at the NZB Standardbred National Yearling Sales in 2019. The trainer was initially drawn to the filly by her pedigree, being by Love You from the Pegasus Spur mare Sungait Sally. “The Love You factor was a massive plus.” “I remember her mother had a few issues but she had a really nice way of going.” “I just remembered her from watching her go and that was what drew me to Salvo.” “And when I saw her she had really big ears and you love trotter with big ears.” Harrington will be back at the NZB Standardbred National Yearling Sales in Christchurch next week trying to find another Salvo. The trainer, who welcomes new owners to join him in his purchases, is best known for his strong results with trotters. However, his stable has undergone a slight change in direction with most of his winners coming in the pacing gait recently. “You look at my record and I have had a lot of trotting starters and a lot of trotting winners.” “But if you look at this season Salvo is my fourth trotting starter and my first trotting winner and all of those starts have been hers.” “It has been a bit of a reversal of roles the last couple of years.” Harrington can head to the sales after a perfect one-from-one strike rate for the weekend after Salvo’s win.

By Jonny Turner    Early tactics and race tempo are set to play a vital part in how Regan Todd’s four-strong team fare at Addington on Friday night. Todd starts his night with eye-catching triallist Shut Up N Dance in race 1. The four-year-old heads into her 1980m debut assignment on the back of a workout and trial win at Rangiora. Those efforts have come after Shut Up N Dance moved north to Todd’s Woodend Beach stable after she showed promise for Nathan Williamson. “Nathan really, really liked her and he gave her a couple of workouts,” Todd said.” “She never went lame or anything silly like that, he was just a bit worried about one of her tendons.” “So he just put her aside and looked after her and he thought she would be a bit better off up here at the beach.” Shut Up N Dance has clearly trialled well ahead of her return and will front as fit as she can be without having the advantage of race day fitness. “She has had two trials and she will be ready to rumble,” Todd said. “Not having race day fitness is the only thing that could come back to bite her.” Todd returns to Addington with Play Philly following her impressive debut earlier this month. Switching from barrier 4 to barrier 8 this time means the two-year-old may need to be driven differently than in her front-running debut win. “It is going to be hard from the draw, you can’t set them alight every week,” Todd said. “If possible we will probably be looking for cover, hopefully, there is a bit of speed on and she can do it from behind this time.” Todd lines up both Hurricane Hill and Isla Elsie from behind the mobile in race 5. Hurricane Hill impressed when making up a big slice of ground after galloping in his last start at Addington. The trotter’s maiden win came from behind the mobile and reverting back from a stand looks a major plus for him on Friday night. “He has got the ability, but he is taking a bit of sorting out,” Todd said. “He is a four-year-old but he acts like he is two.” “He will get there, the penny will drop one day.” “He is hard to follow but he can do it when he wants to.” Drawing barrier 1 can be tricky for a trotting still learning the ropes, but Todd is hopeful Hurricane Hill can handle it. “He is probably better from a mobile than he is from a stand and he will probably be able to hold up and settle where he wants to.” “He was pretty good in his first start at Ashburton.” Todd also starts Isla Elsie in race 5. Like Hurricane Hill, the trotter is well capable of going a big race if she brings her manners. “I wouldn’t write her off.” “She missed away last time and never got into it.” “She did go very good up at Blenheim on the first day.” Robbie Close drives Hurricane Hill with John Dunn to steer Isla Elsie. Close also drives Play Philly while Matthew Williamson drives Shut Up N Dance. View the full Addington fields click here!

Welcome to todays segment from our harness racing analyst who provides you with free expert tips and selections for harness meetings run in New Zealand. Harness racing hits the Addington today with a nine race program starting at 5.26pm and we highlight some specials and value runners we think can give you a run for your money on a good day of racing. Addington selections 19th February 2021 Best Bet:  R1 Shut Up N Dance Best Value:  R2 Our Pegasus Pearl   Addington selections 19th February 2021   Race 1 Shut Up N Dance looks the winner on his trials and opened way over the odds. Top selection… Surfers Delight looks to have improved from last season and should land close to the speed. Can run top three fresh up …… See Me Now powerful stable and drawn to get a soft run. Needed here….. Twilight Bromac better run last start and will be fitter. Draw ok and has claims with a swift beginning Selections:  Shut Up N Dance (6),   See Me Now (1),   Surfers Delight (5)   Twilight Bromac (3)   Race 2 Trixton Time comes up with a good draw and looks stronger than last campaign. Has to be a major player here.……. Our Pegasus Pearl tricky draw but good driver change here and runs have been better than they look on paper. One for longer odds …… Far More Zealous good draw and been going ok in his grass races. Another with good place claims at big money…… Venus Tyron should be improved from his fresh up run. Well placed here and good winning chance Selections:  Our Pegasus Pearl (9),  Trixton Time(1),   Far More Zealous (3),   Venus Tyron  (11)   Race 3 Wanna Play With Me has a decent reputation and tidy run last start. She looks one of the best chances in the race at short odds….. Time Up The Hill has been racing well and good draw off the front. Good winning claims at nice odds….. Alluring Tyron drawn outside her two major rivals.Will need luck but can place….. Aldebaran Floss sat parked for a bit at her last run but stuck on ok. Place chances best Selections:   Wanna Play With Me (3),   Time Up The Hill (1),   Alluring Tyron (4)   Aldebaran Floss (5)   Race 4 Amore Vita good draw and getting fitter. Definitely can win with a good run in transit….. Anna Love good second last start but draw not great. Good place chance ….. Play Philly good finish to win last start but tricky draw. Good odds available and she can go close with luck..….. Allegra ok at trials and from strike rate stable . Could surprise at nice odds Selections:   Play Philly (7),   Amore Vita (1),   Allegra (2)   Anna Love (5)   Race 5 Hurricane Hill good draw and decent run last start. Definitely can win with a good run in transit but manners a concern….. Sonoma Tyron good third last start but draw not great and can make mistakes. Good chance with no errors ….. Majestic Chick looks the early leader with manners and she did go big last start..….. Luminosity drawn to get a cosy run on the fence . Could surprise at nice odds Selections:   Majestic Chick (3),   Hurricane Hill (1),   Sonoma Tyron (12)   Luminosity (10)   Race 6 Enchantee big drop in class and hard to beat with the draw the only issue. Top selection.…. Ivana Legacy good patch of form but hardest test to date. Good place chance here …… Boom ok draw but out of form. Not the worst and can place at big odds ..… Rocknroll Rod racing well and has speed early. Likely leader who can win Selections:  Enchantee (8),   Boom (1),   Rocknroll Rod (6), Ivana Legacy (2)   Race 7 Tide And Time should get a run through from the draw and impressive at trials. Good winning claims …. Executive Banner form suggests a good run here and he was brave fresh. Chance here at nice odds ….. Celtic Spirit wide draw but likely to be up with the leaders early. Hard to beat again here…. Mossdale Ben getting better with racing and could be hard to beat with the pace on and one run at them. Include here Selections:   Tide And Time (1),  Executive Banner (6),   Celtic Spirit (7),  Mossdale Ben (4)   Race 8 Gil Favor going ok and paying great money. Looks hard to beat here if he can get handy early ….. Doff Your Cap quick beginner racing well and the 20m handicap no concern. Can run a decent race at good money….. Phoebe Onyx last couple have been very good. Should be close to the placings with luck in the running….. I Dream Of Jeannie draw ok and at her best would be hard to beat.  One for longer odds Selections:   Gil Favor (1),   Doff Your Cap (11),   I Dream Of Jeannie (6)  Phoebe Onyx (8)   Race 9 Fire Fox racing well and looks a good bet in this field. Draw helps him to the lead and he can win at nice odds….. Sweet Belle racing ok and good finisher who should be hard to beat from the draw. Could see her handy and hard to beat.….. Bettor Call Me racing ok and well suited here. Winning claims and should be close to the placings…. Rock Legend disappointing last start but no fault of his own. Better placed here and good winning chance Selections:  Fire Fox (6),  Bettor Call Me (7),   Rock Legend (10)    Sweet Belle (4)   Harnesslink Media

It might be a night of smaller fields but there’s plenty of form in the Addington harness racing card to be run on Friday the 19th We look into some of the races of interest here.   The feature of the night comes up early in the card. The “Lone Star Sires Stakes Fillies Classique” at listed level will go at 6.24m and is to be run over the 1980m distance from behind the mobile arm. At first glance the field may seem disappointing given there’s only five runners present but it’s a field of real quality. Early tactics may prove decisive as the Hayden Cullen trained Wanna Play With Me may look to dictate terms from the front of the race from the #2 draw. The Michael Ward trained Time Up The Hill has the distinct advantage of drawing the #1 barrier and may well have the chance to take the passing lane late in this, her high speed meaning she’ll be the knock out chance. Alluring Tyron, a last start winner, and the consistent Aldebaran Floss also have claims. The fourth of the night sees the two-year-old fillies go to battle with Amore Vita looking to bounce back from her debut defeat when well supported by punters. She draws the #1 barrier which provides driver Mark Purdon with early options. Anna Love, trained my Greg Payne, made a good fist of things on debut and should have admirers while the Regan Todd trained Play Philly is looking to extend her winning streak to two but will need to overcome a wide barrier of #7. The seventh race on the card the “Alabar Mobile Pace” sees the young colts and geldings do their thing over the 1980m mobile journey. Tide And Time, trained by Katie Cox, has been most impressive in recent workouts and trials. He’s a son of Somebeachsomewhere out of That’s Hunting Pink, a mare who won five herself. The gelding will face some strong opposition from the likes of first-up winners in Executive Banner (R Houghton trained) and the Greg and Nina Hope trained Celtic Spirit who should plenty of his spirit to win when beating out Cantfindabettorman on debut.   Two-year-old form does tend to be variable at times which makes these races for the young ones interesting to watch and, at times, hard to muster any clear thoughts about.We’ll all be a little more knowledgeable about how things stand with this lot after they past the post no doubt. The last of the night is due to go at 9.24pm. It’s an even and competitive field that has plenty of form about it. The Geoff Dunn trained The Falcon draws handily at #3 while Sweet Belle (drawn 4) and the consistent Firefox (drawn 6) also have draws which they can work forward from. Runners Bettor Call Me and Rock Legend represent the Hayden Cullen barn with Rock Legend unable to show his true ability last time out after locking wheels with Zarias in the Harness 7000 final. The Ken Barron stable also fields two chances in Idealingold and the unbeaten Franco Stefan. The pint-sized Boudica looks to upset them all from the #1 express-lane barrier. This is a good field which looks sure to supply plenty of wins going forward. A strong night of harness racing at headquarters.   Ben McMillan   

Welcome to the latest Addington Raceway News update for 2021 with Greg O'Connor and Darrin Williams.    Addington Raceway  

Yesterday’s Alert level changes mean harness racing will continue in this country, much as it did post lockdown. The Government’s moved to place Auckland at Level 3, with the rest of the country at Level 2. With Cambridge (Thursday) and Auckland (Friday) both holding their meetings this week Harness Racing New Zealand has decided to extend nominations till Tuesday to give those in the industry more time to assess their options. Should Auckland stay in level 3 past Wednesday night, the meeting will be able to proceed but with no public or owners. Those meetings run under Level 2 allow owners to attend and also give the clubs the opportunity to apply to host pods of up to 100 registered attendees. Manawatu's six-race on Tuesday will be impacted slightly by a lack of travel permitted out of Auckland but will go ahead with owners allowed to attend, if registered with the club. Waikato BOP Harness Chief executive David Branch and Karen Blanchard, the Racing Director at Auckland Trotting Club, are ready to roll out the required protocols. Branch says "We've race under level 2 in the past. We are preparing to race under restrictions but with the ability of horses to travel and for owners to attend and the potential to have pods of 100 people on course, we are confident that we can stage a successful meeting. "There are 26 horses doubled-up across the two meetings so the delay also will allow trainers to give clubs an indication of where they would prefer to race and set the necessary plans." Auckland faces the potential of tighter restrictions for their meeting on Friday, but Blanchard was upbeat about running a successful meeting. "Obviously, we'll be guided by the Government and Wednesday is crucial. We're planning for Level 3, that is racing behind closed doors. Obviously, we are hoping for the best and by holding off doing our fields until tomorrow we're trying to give participants as much time as possible to plan and make appropriate arrangements.” "This is a key meeting in the build-up to some upcoming Group Ones so we'll be doing everything we can to ensure the meeting is run well, as we move towards our Premier meetings." HRNZ and respective clubs will be communicating with participants during the week to keep them updated with any developments and www.hrnz.co.nz will also be updated regularly.   Harness Racing New Zealand

By Jonny Turner    Watch Me Now delivered the ultimate goodbye and the greatest moment of Kirstin Barclay’s harness racing career by winning the NZ Standardbred Breeders’ Stakes at Addington on Friday night. Watch Me dug deep along the Addington passing lane to reel in star mare Amazing Dream to seal maiden Group One wins for both Barclay and her training partner Tank Ellis in the 2600m feature. In her more than 23 years in harness racing Barclay had only dreamed of winning a Group One race. But thanks to the incredible talent of her lightly raced mare it was a dream no more. “I never thought I’d get the chance to drive a Group One winner, it is just so special.” “Especially doing it with her in her last start for us.” Barclay will now say goodbye to Watch Me Now with the mare being sold in a big-money deal to North American interests by agent John Curtin. “The owners are definitely delighted to get her,” Curtin said. “We didn’t think she could beat Amazing Dream from the 8-hole, but she was just incredible.” Barclay went into her last race with Watch Me Now wanting to give it everything they had. And she did that by blasting off the gate in a move that was clearly the winning of the race. “Tank and I spoke during the week and every time I looked at the field I thought our one chance was if we could cross out of the gate and get handy,” Barclay said.  “Otherwise we were either going to have to sit parked or pull back and try and get around them.” “You can’t do that when they are running those times.” “That was the plan and luckily it worked out.” After crossing to the lead shortly after the start, Amazing Dream and Mark Purdon came back around Watch Me Now and Barclay to hand them a perfect trip in the trail. Though it looked like the leader had enjoyed steady sectionals in the middle stages, the pace can’t have been too slow. Watch Me Now broke the national mares’ record for 2600m The Orange Agent set in the same race in 2017 with her 3-07.2 time. Watch Me Now and Kirstin Barclay            --Race Images Photo Barclay praised Ellis for his careful planning that had Watch Me Now ready to peak for her Group One tilt. “He has been really patient and he is really good at mapping out a path for them.” “And he really did that to perfection.” “And we have really got to thank Benny Hill, who has looked after her for the last two weeks.” “You couldn’t have a horse in a better place, no stone goes unturned.” Watch Me Now delivered the ultimate going away present for her Southland owners Steve and Claire Sloan, who race the outstanding mare with son Brad and his wife Jess, and daughter Halie Gibb and her husband, Alan. The daughter of Mach Three mare, Mach N Elle, will head to North America on the next available flight pending the outcome of a vet inspection. It will not be the last Barclay has seen of her favourite mare, she vowed to visit Watch Me Now once COVID allows her to get there. 

Off N Gone (NZ) (Somebeachsomewhere) lived up to her name in emphatic fashion to win the $150,000 Listed NZB Standardbred Harness Million 3YO Fillies Pace (1980m) at Addington on Friday night.  The Robert Dunn-trained pacer made light work of the power of mid-race that a wide barrier draw forced her to do before she was off and gone from her rivals to take out the lucrative feature by four and a half lengths. Off N Gone was caught wide in the early stages of the NZB Standardbred Harness Million Final before driver John Dunn worked her forward to the parked position. Racing without cover for the entire 1980m event took no toll on the classy filly as she burst to the lead on the home turn and scorched to victory with fast closing sectional times. Off N Gone came into the NZB Standardbred Harness Million 3YO Fillies Pace in outstanding form. The three-year-old ran to two impressive victories at last month’s two-day meeting at Nelson before she charged into third after being held up in her latest run at Addington. Now a Harness Million winner, Off N Gone has earned a shot at Group One glory in the Northern Oaks at Alexandra Park. “It was a great win, she drew wide and did plenty of work and she ran a great time,” Robert Dunn said. “She has always been a lovely filly, we have always liked her. “I thought her two runs at Nelson were terrific and she has just come on from there. “She will head to Auckland now for the Cadeceus Club Stakes and then go on to the Northern Oaks.” Off N Gone stopped the clock in the NZB Standardbred Harness Million 3YO Fillies Pace in the scintillating time of 2-23.9, producing a 1-56.9 mile rate. Off N Gone was followed across the line by With Grace (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight) in a Robert Dunn stable quinella. The Woodend Beach trainer qualified four runners for the NZB Standardbred Harness Million 3YO Fillies Pace with Shankia (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight) finishing fifth and Passion And Power (NZ) (Art Major) finishing eigth. Avana (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight) ran third behind the Dunn trained quinella makers to complete her second placing in an NZB Standardbred Harness Million Final. Breeder-owners Brent and Suzanne Williams and Gary Woodham offered Off N Gone at the 2019 NZB Standardbred National Yearling Sales where she was knocked down for $37,000. The filly’s dam Kabet (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight) had already proved to be a broodmare gem, becoming a stakes-winning producer after Off N Gone’s victory in Friday night’s race. Off N Gone’s half-brothers Take A Bet (NZ) (Mach Three) and Above N Beyond (NZ) (Art Major) have both been multiple race winners. A half-sister to Off N Gone and full sister to Above N Beyond will be offered at the 2021 NZB Standardbred National Yearling Sale. The filly will go through the ring as Lot 382 at the Christchurch session on Wednesday February 17. 2021 National Standardbred Yearling Sale Calendar Auckland Parade at Karaka: Saturday 13 February 2021, 1PM (NZT) Auckland Sale of Pacers & Trotters: Sunday 14 February 2021, 12PM (NZT) Christchurch Parade & Sale of Trotters: Monday 15 February 2021, 1PM (NZT) Christchurch Sale of Pacers: Tuesday 16 & Wednesday 17 February 2021, 1PM (NZT)   NZB Standardbred

Last night’s premier harness racing at Addington will long be remembered by those of us in the south. There was great excitement when having her last race in New Zealand, Southern mare Watch Me Now upset hot favourite Amazing Dream in the $102,000 Group One Breeders Stakes. Driver Kirstin Barclay schooled Watch Me Now off the gate from a wide draw and took the lead just after the winning post, before handing up to hot favourite Amazing Dream. Inside the last 400 metres Amazing Dream, Watch Me Now and Need You Now broke away from the field. On straightening Amazing Dream and Watch Me Now set down for a stride by stride battle with Barclay throwing everything at the Southern mare to get her up to win by a head. “Everything went to plan for once. You’re always hopeful that you can beat mares like her but you don’t expect to,” Barclay said. The time of 3-07.2 was a new New Zealand record, bettering The Orange Agent’s previous record of 3-07.4. The last 800 metres was run in 55.1. “She was travelling well all the way. She was bang on ready.” Owned by the Sloan and Gibb families, the mainstream public were unaware the Breeders Stakes was to be her last race in New Zealand, as she had recently been sold to American interests. “It was bitter sweet and pretty emotional. It’s a bit heart breaking really but she’ll do a massive job over there.” It was by far Barclay’s biggest race day win in her twenty two years of driving. She has previously won a Listed race on U May Cullect and the Group Three Kindergarten Stakes driving El Nino. It was also the first Group win for Watch Me Now’s Oreti Beach training partnership of Barclay and Tank Ellis. “We’ve liked her from day one. Kerry O’Reilly broke her in and said she was a nice horse.” Southland mares have a great record in the race. Bonnies Chance won it three times in 1980s, Shortys Girl won in 2002 and 2003 and Tact Lizzie won at long odds of 63-1 in 2010. Meanwhile Pembrook Playboy underlined his rising status at last night’s meeting, taking the next step and winning the Group Three Coca Cola Summer Cup. He beat last year’s New Zealand Cup winner Self Assured by the barest of margins. Williamson secured the trail behind pacemaker The Fixer and the entire ran up the passing lane and held out Self Assured by a nose. “I heard Matt Cross say that I got there, but I wasn’t really sure because I couldn’t see that other horse. Were absolutely rapt,” said Williamson. Williamson took his horses north midweek and he said Pembrook Playboy didn’t travel that well. “He’s bit of the bugger not to settle in. He gets a bit worked up when he’s away. He’s good at home as he knows his routine. He seemed a little bit more settled tonight. He’s doing a bit of travelling coming up so we hope that’ll be the making of him.” Prior to last nights Group Three Williamson made sure the Bettor’s Delight entire had his mind on the job, giving him a sharp section in his warm up. “He travelled pretty keenly in the running and was definitely focused, and he dug in well at the finish. When the money is handed out it’s a good habit to get into.” Although last night’s win was up there as a career highlight Williamson said winning the Invercargill Cup is still at the top of the list. At the conclusion of last night’s meeting in Christchurch Williamson was travelling south to Oamaru for the night. It would be an early start to get back home and then into Invercargill for the Riverton Meeting at Ascot Park today. Williamson said last night, “We’ll get him home and get him on the green grass. He tucked up a bit on this trip. We’ll set him for the Northern Southland Cup. I might have him at the Riverton Meeting (4th March) as there’s a Free for All which could be a good leadup.” It was the Bettor’s Delight four year olds eighth career win from fifteen starts and his third in a row. The win elevates him to second behind Copy That in the Four Year Old Diamond for the end of season Harness Jewels. Also at last night’s meeting the Williamson trained Ragazzo Mach ran a gallant second in a high quality R57-R75 pace – a race that included a few New Zealand Derby aspirants. After covering extra ground he came on strongly at the end of the 1980 metre race and got within three quarters of a length of favourite It’s All About The Faith. “He went a great race. He was working the whole way. It was a slick time and he certainly wasn’t disgraced.” Williamson trained trotter Dark Horse also had to settle for second, beaten by Muscle Mountain by half a length. “I think she wasn’t quite at her best without taking anything away from the winner. It was a phenomenal run. He’s the new kid on the block and was pretty impressive.” It’s proving to be a pretty successful season for southern trained horses which we would expect would be reflected at the Sales this week. Click here for full results from last nights Addington meeting   by Bruce Stewart

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    It was a night of upsets at Addington Raceway on Friday night, with a couple of southerners downing their more fancied northern rivals. Nathan Williamson’s small but select team featured prominently, but it was the victory of Watch Me Now in the Group 1 The Leefield Station NZ Breeders’ Stakes (2600m) that proved the highlight for the southern raiders. The Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis-trained mare was set alight from her wide draw to take an early lead for Barclay, crossing heavy favourite Amazing Dream. Her more fancied rival was then sent forward by driver Mark Purdon to give Watch Me Now the perfect trip in the trail. Watch Me Now took advantage of the passing lane down the home straight and under the urgings of Barclay she was able to wear down Amazing Dream and record a head victory, with a further 9-1/2 lengths back to Enchantee in third. Barclay was thrilled with the win, particularly being her first at elite level. “That’s the highlight of my career,” she said. “This is my first Group One, it is a dream come true really.” Barclay was quick to pass praise onto her training partner for the result. “Tank has just prepped her so well for this race, it was the aim the whole way along,” she said. “I was really rapt with her two weeks ago when she ran third here sitting parked, and we knew the distance would suit her. “We were giving it our all tonight, we weren’t going to sit back and die wondering.” Watch Me Now has finished her New Zealand career on a high and will now head to North America to continue racing after her recent sale. “It’s a little bittersweet because she is moving on now, but it was the dream result,” Barclay said. “She is off to America. As soon as COVID is over I will be off over to see her.” Earlier in the night, fellow Southlander Nathan Williamson took out one of the other meeting’s features, the Group 3 Coca-Cola Summer Cup (1980m) with Pembrook Playboy. In a similar result, the son of Bettor’s Delight utilised the passing lane and was able to get the better of hot favourite Self Assured to win by a short-margin. “To beat that horse is no mean feat, so I was absolutely thrilled,” Williamson said. “Those small fields can be tricky races, but it worked out well where I ended up and he was pretty brave.” Pembrook Playboy took two southern Group Three victories into Friday night, but Williamson was still wary of his high-class opposition. “It was a bit of a step up in grade with Self Assured and some others there. We were coming up here to their backyard, so it was never going to be easy,” he said. “To come away with a win, we will definitely take it, and hopefully he can continue to improve because he is going to need to a bit to be right up with the topliners. But we are pleased with what he is doing so far.” More stakes assignments now beckon the four-year-old, who is set to spend plenty of time on the road in the next few months. “He will go home and have a few easy days and then he will go to the Northern Southland Cup and then perhaps come up for the Easter meeting, and then onto Auckland after that for the four-year-old races. He has got a bit of a busy time ahead of him,” Williamson said. Williamson was also pleased with a couple of runner-up results by Ragazzo Mach in the Lot 209 ‘Out Of A ½-Sister to Ragazzo Mach’ Mobile Pace (1980m) and Dark Horse in the Gr.3 Fahey Fence Hire Summer Trotting FFA (1980m). “I was thrilled with Ragazzo Mach, it was his first trip away and he raced super. To go the way he did after being wide for a lot of the journey, I was thrilled with that,” Williamson said. “The other mare (Dark Horse) went good too, she was just beaten by a class horse (Muscle Mountain). I was happy with her, she tried really hard.” While Williamson finished unplaced in the night’s feature race with Yankee Party, he was thrilled for fellow Southlanders Barclay and Ellis. “I am thrilled for Kirstin and Tank to get the win, it was great to see Southland have a great night.” For full Addington results click here

Three years ago Nathan Williamson was watching a racing show on television, turned to his wife Katie and said the words that changed his career. “We got to change the way we go about this,” said the now 32-year-old horseman. Williamson was watching a discussion about the dominance of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen and how the challenge was for other trainers to raise to their standards, not complain about the All Stars success. The words hit the talented young harness horseman like a mallet. “We were going ok at that time, training winners and had a good-sized team but we weren’t going to go to that next level and not to the top,” says Williamson. “That show really made me think about how we were running the business and I decided we should have less horses but better bred ones and have a plan.” That plan in involved getting successful owners to re-invest and trust Williamson’s judgement, buying better-bred yearlings and then target carnivals at the major tracks while establishing a professional base in Southland. The Williamson’s plan has worked and now the young gun trainer is one of the most feared in the South Island with ambitions of northern raids and buying even better horseflesh at the yearling sales, which start this Sunday. But first he heads to Addington tonight with the tangible results of his new, improved training programme, four horses good enough to compete against the best and maybe beat them. He has exciting three-year-old Ragazzo Mach up against Sires’ Stakes winner It’s All About Faith in race two, stable star Dark Horse in the main trot, Pembrook Playboy taking on NZ Cup winner Self Assured in the Summer Cup and stable newcomer Yankee Party in the group one $100,000 Breeders Stakes. He realises Yankee Party can’t beat Amazing Dream in the last of those races and even though his other three will be among the favourites they may not win either. But Williamson is now in the big time and loving it. “This was part of the plan way back then and Friday is an important night for us,” he offers. “With the sales starting this weekend we want to show people we can train in the big time, especially with Mark and Natalie taking a break. That has changed the industry and maybe the dynamic of the sales.”Pembrook Playboy (R7, No.2) has been in scintillating form in the deep south and has an open class motor but taking on a New Zealand and Auckland Cup winner in Self Assured is a step up so big he might need a pole vault. “He is still a big baby of a horse but I will put him in the race and give him his chance. But I don’t think he can beat Self Assured,” says Williamson. Dark Horse is a wonderful follower of speed with a sprint to match most open class trotters in the country but tonight’s Summer Trotting Free-For-All will require early pressure that doesn’t relent to see her at her best. “I used to think she had a top trotter’s sprint but after a few injuries I think she is a very good group two or three horse away from the very best. “So she can win this week but Muscle Mountain will be hard to beat and it might come down to the tempo.” Ragazzo Mach (R2, No.9) may be the best of Williamson’s new generation and as a pre-Christmas three-year-old beat good older horses in the Wairio Cup and then slayed his last-start opponents by almost 10 lengths. In an open year for three-year-olds he is a legitimate NZ Derby hope but finds himself in a wonderful intermediate grade field tonight containing four or five future open class horses. “You wouldn’t believe he could end up in a field this strong and from the outside barrier I can’t go rushing off the gate (at the start),” says Williamson. “So in reality it might be a race where he hits the line hard and we are happy with that if we don’t get the right luck. “But he is the real deal and I think he has a Derby chance. He is the sort of horse we wanted to be training by now when we made those tough calls three years ago.”   By Michael Guerin

To mark the running  of the Group One Leefield Station NZ Breeders Stakes at Addington on Friday night we have produced a video clip, featuring  every runner. The $100,000 feature over 2600 metres for the fillies and mares, is set to go at 9.10 pm. Amazing Dream  will be the hottest of favourites, opening at $1.25 to make it 19 wins from 29 starts. The Auckland Cup winner has accrued nearly $900,000 in stakes. The race dates back to the 1970s and has featured three-time winners Blossom Lady and Bonnie’s Chance as well as Mainland Banner (2016), Adore Me (2014) and Dream About Me (2019).   Harness Racing New Zealand

Addington runs a premier night of harness racing action on Friday the 12th Here we look through the strong card and the races that catch the eye. The 4th of the night the “Woodlands Stud Sires Stakes Harness 7000” is dominated, at least in name, by Bruce Negus. The Burnham based trainer lines up no less than four runners in an all-out attack on this $40’000 event. He does hold a strong hand too with Corravally Star having more exposed form than most and Perfect Cut having the early speed to attempt to dictate terms from the front. Zarias, the Zachary Butcher trained son of Changeover will also carry support following a notable debut win at Alexandra Park. It’s a good concept this Harness 7000 and I’m sure most are pleased that it’s managed to attract a strong field. Race 5 the “Fahey Fence Hire Summer Trotting FFA” is due to clear the mobile arm at 7.11 pm. The field is a strong one with the Hope stable producing two of the most exciting trotting stars of the last season or so in Midnight Dash (drawn 3) and Muscle Mountain (operating from the #5 barrier) Dark horse, coming off a treble of back-to-back wins is entitled to carry support but this field is a step up on the last outing and she’ll have to be at her brilliant best to prevail. The Dominator, the impressive Vacation Hill and Splash Cola all have strong mobile records too and add real depth to this quality field. The NZB Standardbred Harness Million 3YO Fillies rolls around at 7.40 and sees the Mark Jones stable hold sway over the field of twelve. Braeview Kelly, who possesses an explosive turn of foot, draws well at #2 while her stablemate, the free-wheeling La Rosa, will have work to do from a second line draw but there’s little doubting her ability to win given her race record against arguably stronger fields. The Hayden Cullen trained Avana is confined to an inside second row draw and may need early luck while the Robert Dunn trained Off N Gone, who has been strong in her last three race day appearances, will need to overcome the car park draw of #9. Expect mid-race moves here.   The Coca Cola Summer Cup at Group 3 level is the next humdinger on this big night with the New Zealand Cup victor from last year Self Assured going to battle with the New Zealand Cup winner of 2018 in The Fixer. Classie Brigade, a known mobile arm flyer, will start from the widest barrier but could still have too many wheels for his rivals early. Pembrook Playboy, the Southern raider, looks to further cement his open class credentials here and will have options from his nice #2 barrier. A small field yes but it certainly doesn’t lack for quality. The last Group race on the card is the feature of the night. “The Leefield Station NZ Breeders Stakes” at Group 1 level will be run at 9.10pm and sees the amazing Amazing Dream look to defy them all and notch another memorable victory. The 2600m will sort the real women out from the girls here as this title normally brings the very best to the top. Look for Watch Me Now to continue her stellar form of late alongside Need You Now who simply looks incapable of going a poor race. The Barry Purdon and Scott Phelan trained Havtime should be respected and is likely to receive an economical trip from an inside second row draw. Plutonium Lady, Enchantee and Spellbound will also have their fans and their chance to run into things if the race tempo is in their favor. All things considered a wonderful night of racing at Addington.   Ben McMillan     

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